TED Talks: Malaria

I watched the TED Talk about the three reasons malaria hasn’t been eradicated yet. I felt like I had ample knowledge of malaria and its causes, but this video showed me that I clearly had no idea of what malaria was all about. Sure, I knew that malaria and poverty were tied together and that poor places had a higher chance of getting malaria, but I had no idea that the people affected by the disease didn’t actually find it to be a huge epidemic like the Western world does. I also did not know that the cure for malaria existed and has existed for hundreds of years. I figured that we were somewhere close to finding the cure for malaria, but apparently there are seven different forms that malaria can take on that are genetically different from one another and can fight off most drugs. I thought the malaria campaigns in the 20th century were extremely successful and saved many lives, but it actually did more harm than good because of the aforementioned problem with malaria’s several different forms.

I was extremely confused about the infected areas’ handling of malaria as if it weren’t a huge problem until she compared it to the cold and flu. Many people in the US die from colds and the flu every year, even though catching either is really preventable. Things as simple as washing one’s hands more often can prevent the flu from spreading. Getting rid of the flu and colds completely is possible if everyone wore surgical masks whenever they went outside. However, we don’t do that because it seems excessive and everyone catches the flu or a cold at some point anyways and most of us don’t die. That is similar to the way people affected by malaria view malaria nets. The majority of people who catch malaria do not die, but so many places are affected that the death count is still really high. Not to mention that malaria nets, just like surgical masks, are extremely imposing and hinder day-to-day (or in malaria nets’ case, nightly) activities.

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